“Get a Job” (Dylan Kidd)
“The End Of The Tour” (James Ponsoldt)
Cast: Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg, Ron Livingston, Mickey Sumner
Synopsis: Journalist David Lipsky accompanies novelist David Foster Wallace on a cross-country tour as he promotes his book “Infinite Jest.”
Last We Heard: One of the most curious films of the year, this sees the seminal post-modern novelist reach the screen, and in the unlikely guise of comedy star Jason Segel. Already disowned by the author’s estate, we’re certainly intrigued to see how things turn out, especially as the film’s in the hands of “Smashed” and “The Spectacular Now” author James Ponsoldt, and this feels like a natural fit for TIFF if the film’s ready in time (if not, Sundance would be the better bet).
“3 Hearts” (Benoit Jacquot)
Cast: Chiara Mastroianni, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Catherine Deneuve
Synopsis: Rather “Before Sunrise”-style, Marc and Sylvie meet in Paris and wander around falling for each other. But after a subsequent missed connection, Marc meets Sophie instead, and they become close with Marc unaware she is Sylvie’s sister.
Last We Heard: Already apparently more or less a done deal for Venice, Benoit Jacquot’s film has such distinct French pedigree that we were surprised a push wasn’t made to get it ready for Cannes. Still, the mother/daughter team of Deneuve and Mastroianni, and Gainsbourg too means this is a Euro cinema royalty cast (even without Lea Seydoux who was originally slated for the Mastroianni role), and Jacquot’s last film “Farewell My Queen” was a modest international festival hit, even if we were cooler about it than some.
“Queen of the Desert” (Werner Herzog)
Cast: Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Robert Pattinson, Damian Lewis
Synopsis: The true-story biopic of famous traveler, writer, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer, and political attaché Gertrude Bell who played a crucial role in the development of the Middle East at the turn of the Twentieth Century.
Last We Heard: This latest, uncharacteristically starry project from batshit genius legend Werner Herzog was one we weren’t too sure we’d be seeing before the year was out. But news that filming wrapped in March perked us up a bit, and now just last week producer Cassian Elwes (@cassianelwes) tweeted "Queen of the desert is a total winner. It's so beautiful and works on so many levels. Herzog outdid himself.” It’s hardly unexpected that a producer would be publicly enraptured, but it does suggest that the film’s in a fairly finished state and that it might well be ready for a fall festival slot. If so, hitting big-league Hollywood with Kidman, arthouse cred with Herzog and rabid fanbases with Franco and Pattinson, we can only imagine some sort of cage fight going on between programmers to decide who gets this one.
Untitled Lance Armstrong Project (Stephen Frears)
Cast: Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Dustin Hoffman, Lee Pace, Jesse Plemons
Synopsis: Journalist David Walsh starts to suspect that legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong has been doping, and sets out to expose him.
Last We Heard: The first of the many Lance Armstrong-related biopics to make it into production, this still-untitled version is penned by “Trainspotting” screenwriter John Hodge, and directed by Stephen Frears, who had a major return to form last year with “Philomena,” with Ben Foster in the lead role, and Chris O’Dowd in support. Backed by Working Title, this could return to Venice, where “Philomena” was a big hit last year, but with Foster playing Stanley in “A Streetcar Named Desire” on stage in London until September 6th, TIFF is probably a better bet for this one.
“The Price Of Glory” (Xavier Beauvois)
Cast: Benoit Poelvoorde, Chiara Mastroianni, Peter Coyote, Nadine Labaki
Synopsis: In Switzerland in 1977, two convicts team up to steal Charlie Chaplin’s coffin.
Last We Heard: After the success of 2010’s “Of Gods And Men,” which won the Grand Prix at Cannes, most had tipped the new film from Xavier Beauvois for a return to the Croisette. But it wasn’t to be, allegedly because the new picture (a change of pace, in that it’s a dark comedy) wasn’t done in time. That means that a Venice bow is very likely, especially as the director’s 2000 film “To Matthieu” and 2005 follow-up “The Young Lieutenant” both premiered there.
“Ex Machina” (Alex Garland)
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander
Synopsis: A young coder at a global internet company wins a contest to spend a week at the remote retreat belonging to the company’s CEO/guru, but discovers once there that he must participate in a strange experiment involving interaction with a sentient artificial intelligence, in the person of a beautiful woman.
Last We Heard: We got a first look at this back in April, prompting us to wonder if it was going to sneak into a Cannes sidebar, but the “intimate psychological thriller” which was, according to star Vikander, “one of the best scripts I’ve ever read” didn’t show there, so must surely be primed for a big fall festival slot, especially as it’s already set for a January release in the UK. Our gut says TIFF would be the best fit, but writer Garland’s directorial debut, with a cast this hot, would be a feather in the cap of whichever fest got it.
“Phoenix” (Christian Petzold)
Cast: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Nina Kunzendorf, Uwe Preuss
Synopsis: A Holocaust survivor returns home under an assumed identity to attempt to discover if her husband betrayed her.
Last We Heard: His reputation had been growing for a while, but 2012’s “Barbara” marked German director Christian Petzold as a major filmmaker. His latest sees him reteam with muse Nina Hoss for a 1940s-set period piece, and was widely touted for Cannes, but ultimately failed to appear at the festival. But this wrapped last fall, so unless he’s holding the film for Berlin (where his previous pictures screened), this should appear at Venice and/or TIFF.
“The New Girlfriend” (Francois Ozon)
Cast: Romain Duris, Anais Demoustier, Raphael Personnaz
Synopsis: Based on an award-winning short story by British mystery novelist Ruth Rendell, the story is reportedly about a young woman who discovers a secret about her recently deceased best friend’s husband.
Last We Heard: We’ve found Ozon a little hit and miss in the past, and his last film “Young and Beautiful” fell a little more on the “miss” side for us, but he’s a festival presence to be reckoned with, and source material for this sounds promisingly spiky, so we’d be hopeful for something more in the “In the House” register. Venice or Toronto seem likely, as Ozon usually premieres at one of those, with “Young and Beautiful”’s Cannes slot being the anomaly.